Why Don't Superintendents Have Tenure?

Members of Michigan’s largest teachers union apparently have a “good for me but not for thee” attitude when it comes to applying protectionist “tenure” provisions to school superintendents.

Some 98 percent of the teachers in the Freeland Community Schools recently voted “no confidence” in their superintendent, according the Midland Daily News. A “no confidence” vote by union members in their bosses is fairly frequent in Michigan school districts (see here, here, here and here) and often precedes the firing of these superintendents.

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The attitude among teachers is very different, however, when it comes to their own jobs. Public school teachers in Michigan are granted tenure protection after five years on the job. This provides strident security that made it nearly impossible to get rid of a teacher, no matter how terrible they are at their profession. For example: Allegations of kissing and head-locking students, sexual misconduct, drug use and distributing alcohol to minors was not enough to keep Michigan school districts from paying out millions to get rid of problem teachers because of strict union-backed tenure rules. In the past five years, less than 0.001 percent of Michigan tenured teachers have been removed.

Luckily for Michigan taxpayers and children, the Legislature recently passed some much-needed reform; something the MEA has fought every step of the way.

Until the current reforms, it would not matter if every employee in the building knew a tenured teacher was grossly incompetent; that educator could still keep their job, continuing to be in front of children. But it is in the interest of the MEA to have superintendents as “at-will” employees; especially since the union has significant leverage in local school board elections.

In fact, neither teachers, nor superintendant, or any other government employees should get the type of job protection that tenure often ensures.

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